Being a manager is hard, but being a leader is even trickier. Some people don’t realize the distinction between the two, but it is stark. Being a manager is vastly different from being a leader. From the way you present yourself to your team to the behind-the-scenes tactics you utilize, everything that you do impacts the way that you are viewed by your team. So, what exactly separates a leader from a manager? Well, I’ve compiled a small list of characteristics and traits that can turn your mundane management position into an exciting leadership opportunity.
Goals Versus Vision
One of the biggest differences between a leader and a manager is the mindset. Managers tend to focus on creating tasks to achieve certain goals, while leaders instead have a vision of where they want the team (or the company, business, etc.) to to go. Leaders know that in order to achieve success, they must inspire their team members to collaborate and work together to make the vision a reality. Managers, on the other hand, like to focus on the individual, and how he or she can reach specific, individual goals.
Managers do not take risks. In fact, they avoid risk as much as possible. Instead, managers look for ways that they can take control of a situation in order to minimize the risk potential. Leaders, on the other hand, are very much open to risk. This isn’t to say that every single thing that a leader does could put the company in jeopardy; leaders are simply much more open to change, and they embrace taking the occasional risk if it can mean a major, positive change for the company. Additionally, leaders understand that failure is inevitable, and in most cases, necessary.
This difference, I feel, is the most important differentiating factor between a leader and a manager. Effective leaders want to inspire their team to be independent and achieve their own personal successes. To do this, leaders work closely with their team members to foster healthy relationships. They take a moment to ask personal, yet appropriate, questions; they deliver on their promises and they take steps to coach their employees to achieve their individual goals, both personal and professional. Managers, again, set up goals and simply guide their employees to achieve them. They don’t really go out of their way to inspire their team members.
Now, this list of differences isn’t necessarily meant to make the managerial style seem terrible. Admittedly, I prefer the leadership style, as I believe it grows the team, and subsequently, the entire company. Some people and companies thrive better from being a traditional manager. Both methods can work. If you are looking to become a leader, then you might want to consider some of these strategies so that you may become the best leader you can be.